Rise and shine, Philae!
After going off the grid for seven months, Rosetta's lander Philae is back.
On November 12 2014, it became the first human-made object ever to land on a comet when it touched down on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
However, the landing was rough.
Due to an anchoring system failure, Philae couldn't hold on to the surface of the comet, bounced a couple of times and ended up in a dark ditch.
Stranded there, it was getting very little light for its solar panels to recharge the batteries.
In the couple of days that it stayed on, the lander managed to collect considerable data and pictures about the comet.
When the batteries finally ran flat, Philae went into hibernation.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has tried ever since to contact or find it, in vain.
The scientists' last hope was that in early summer, with the comet nearing the Sun, it would receive more light and recharge.
Indeed, last weekend, Philae established a few, brief radio links with its mother ship, which is orbiting the comet and studying it.
According to ESA, the little lander is in good shape, though more detailed checks are necessary.
If indeed Philae is operational, its awry landing will turn serendipitous.
In fact, by March the planned landing site became too hot for research, and the mission was supposed to end in spring.
But from its remote and cool hideout, the lander will be able to work through the summer, when the comet will be at its closest to the Sun and flare up with activity.
Philae will be able witness and report directly events that, when it left Earth, we could only imagine!
Image credit: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2015/06/Philae_wakes_up
Kudos to Philae! Nicely written!